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Getting ready for winter follies


Preface by saying I don’t get as much time to spend with the bees as I would like so it always seems rushed. I’ve been draining a few of the flow frames in preparation for removing the flow super and because of cooler weather in central British Columbia now the flow is much slower. I intend to feed the honey back to the bees as needed.

This weekend I drained two frames and took the flow super apart to inspect and remove for access to the lower boxes. I had a temporary box set aside to hold the flow frames and I lined the bottom with plastic to catch errant honey.

Following the advice of some on this forum I put a top board with a reduced opening between the brood boxes and the flow super so the bees would treat the flow super as outside of the hive and begin robbing the remaining honey and cleaning the frames. I want to do an oxalic acid vapor treatment next.

However, I have not had a good time with all this and especially neither have the bees. While I was as careful as I could be in all this shuffling a lot of bees ended up in the temporary box after I transferred the frames back to the super and being late in the day and cooler it seemed like they were not going to find their way back home. I put a cover on the transfer box over night to help them keep a little warmer and this morning after the sun was on the hive went to see how they had fared. They are still in a large clump or two and a lot of drowned bees in the bottom. I also was noticing both last night after finishing my work and this morning an elevated droning sound from the hive, not the usual hum but a higher pitched almost as if bees were trapped sound. This concerns me as I have read about the sound a hive will make in preparation for a swarm.

The sound seems to have calmed down and I propped the cover lid of the transfer box up where some bees spent the night so it was getting sun and hopefully they will warm up and go to their hive. As you can see in the pics the transfer box was right next to the hive.

I just feel like I failed the bees somehow and have really disturbed them for very little reason. I have a very strong hive and possibly should have added a third brood box in August but it’s too late now. I just hope I haven’t traumatized them so much they’ll be thinking of leaving home :unamused:

Here’s some pics showing the process. As you can see I was still draining a frame while doing the rest of the work because of time crunch. I started draining it but the flow was so slow I knew I was running out of time to complete the rest of the work. First pic is the transfer box.


Will try to post a couple of videos but it seems you need special status to do that on here, I’ll put them on a separate hosting site.




As of now the loud droning noise seems to have settled down to a more normal hum and all the displaced bees have returned home. I guess this is all part of the process, just a bit unnerving to say the least :sweat:


Hi Ron,
To be honest I think you have done alright, there will always be casualties and with experience they will become less and less. The warmest part of the day is the best time to do this sort of work however i know this is not always possible. The errant honey will also become less next time you extract, I had the same issue for a little while but this fixed itself. One option if you have to extract on those cooler days is to remove the Flow frames with their box and take to a warmer room so the honey flows and you could leave to drain overnight. I was brushing the bees off each frame and transferring to a spare box in a wheelbarrow, once the flow box was empty I would take this too and then close up the hive to lessen the stress. I wouldn’t worry about your bees absconding, this is highly unlikely unless the brood frames were totally covered in honey and the colony was in danger. Small amounts of honey dripping down will be cleaned up. Its not unusual to feel distressed in this situation, we all go through it, and after a couple of days your bees will be back to normal.


Hey thanks Rodderick, a little reassurance goes a long way! I don’t have any warmer space that I could use at present but may have to consider setting something up next season.


So much trial and error as a newbeek, isn’t it?! Thanks for posting your experience :blush: